Colonoscopy in a Nutshell
- A colonoscopy investigates the large intestine together with the rectum and anus.
- It is mainly used to check for abnormalities in the large intestine such as the presence of polyps or cancer.
- A colonoscopy is effective to screen for colorectal cancer, which often starts as a polyp.
- Early detection and removal of colon polyps can prevent colorectal cancer.
- A colonoscopy is considered an investigative procedure and poses very few risks except for slight discomfort in the initial days after the procedure.
- The procedure takes 30 minutes or less and you will be able to be discharged right after the investigation is completed.
What Is A Colonoscopy?
Colorectal cancer occurs when small polyps and lumps begin to grow and mutate within the walls of the colon or rectum, manifesting into cancerous cells.
A colonoscopy investigates the large intestine together with the rectum and anus.
During this investigation, our doctor will check for signs of abnormalities found in your large intestine. It is done using a camera mounted at the end of a thin, flexible tube, known as a colonoscope. Samples of the large intestine can be taken for tests if there are any growths or unusual findings.
If present, our doctor will remove growths observed within the colon or rectum walls to prevent them from manifesting into cancerous cells.
Should I Go For Colonoscopy?
Our doctor may recommend a colonoscopy if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Pain in the lower abdomen or cramps
- Lumps in the stomach
- Blood in stools
- A change in toilet habits (e.g. Constipation, watery or thin stools)
- You are above 40 years of age with a family history of cancer or stomach ailments.
According to the Ministry of Health guidelines, screening for colon cancer should begin at the age of 50 for individuals who do not have any risk factors, while individuals with increased risk should start screening from the age of 40.
As most colorectal cancers develop from adenomatous (non-cancerous) polyps, they may not immediately show signs or symptoms. As a result, these non-cancerous growths may mutate over time, turning cancerous and leading to colorectal cancer.
Regular screening for colorectal cancer, such as a colonoscopy, can help to prevent cancer by removing polyps. Additionally, they help detect signs of cancers in the early stages, offering a better chance of recovery.
Are You Awake During A Colonoscopy?
In Singapore, patients are put under IV sedation and will not be conscious during the course of the colonoscopy procedure.You will remain asleep throughout the entire process and will awaken in the recovery room after the scope has been completed.
The entire procedure should take no more than 30 minutes.
Are Colonoscopies Painful?
The colonoscopy procedure is usually painless as patients will receive an anaesthesia before it begins. The sedative puts you so deeply asleep that there is little chance for discomfort during the process of the scope and even when awake, the medicine dulls any feelings in this area all together.
Why Is A Regular Colonoscopy (Colorectal Cancer Screening) Important?
Colorectal cancer is the most common form of cancer in Singapore, affecting both males and females. It is also one of the more preventable forms of cancer – most colorectal cancers develop from the colon or from rectal polyps. These small growths may increase in size and turn cancerous over time. Colon polyps usually have no symptoms.
A colonoscopy is the best form of prevention as it detects and removes polyps. Prevention beats cure.
Is A Colonoscopy Painful?
Contrary to what people think, a colonoscopy is not usually painful as patients will be sedated when the procedure is carried out. Prior to the procedure, IV sedation will be administered and you will remain unconscious throughout the procedure until it is completed.
As a result, most patients do not usually have recollection of the procedure being conducted until after they have awakened.
What Are the Risks Involved With a Colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is an investigative procedure and poses very few risks when conducting an investigation. In most cases, the benefits of performing a colonoscopy to investigate signs of abnormalities far outweigh the risks of the procedure.
With that said, the rare occurrence of complications may occur. These include:
- Bleeding along the walls of the rectum or colon due to biopsy
- An allergic response to the sedative used during a colonoscopy
- A tear along the walls of the rectum or colon
With the advancement of science, doctors can also perform an alternative procedure called a virtual colonoscopy (endoscopy capsule). The capsule, when swallowed, moves along the digestive tract, capturing images along the intestinal tract and sending the photos to a device worn on the patient.
As this procedure is minimally invasive, patients can expect fewer complications and reduced discomfort from the procedure. However, this procedure has its disadvantages, such as the possibility of not detecting very small polyps and not being able to perform tasks such as a biopsy or polypectomy.
You are advised to speak to our doctor for a better recommendation.
How Should I Prepare for a Colonoscopy?
Patients undergoing a colonoscopy will need to undergo bowel preparation. The purpose of the bowel prep is to allow for an unobstructed view within the colon and rectal wall during the colonoscopy.
To reduce the patient’s urge to use the toilet immediately after the bowel prep, they are advised to undergo a liquid diet between 24 to 48 hours before the procedure. This diet would typically include soup, soft boiled eggs, plain coffee or tea or sports drinks.
Medications such as blood thinners, iron supplements, and certain diabetes medicines may also be stopped leading to the procedure. You are advised to inform our doctor ahead of the procedure if you are taking any medication or supplements to receive advice on whether to continue taking them.
The night before your procedure, you will begin your bowel prep by taking a laxative as prescribed by our doctor to flush out the colon in preparation for the colonoscopy.
As a precaution, patients are advised to arrange for an accompanying adult after the procedure as they may be recovering from the sedation given during the colonoscopy.
What Should I Eat Before A Colonoscopy?
Patients who are undergoing colonoscopy will be required to undergo bowel preparation. This means that you will be given diet guidelines leading up to the procedure.
2-3 Days before the Procedure — You should start by eating a low-fibre diet. This means no whole grains, nuts or seeds, fruits and vegetables; dried fruit should also be avoided since they also have high fibre content.
1 Day before the Procedure – You will be advised to avoid solid foods. Instead, you should consume soft food or liquids such as porridge or soup. At the same time, you are advised to avoid drinking black coffee or tea as there’s a possibility that they may result in discolouration within the colon and interfere with the results of the investigation.
On the day of the Procedure — You are required to fast for 8 hours before the procedure. No food and water should be consumed 8 hours before the procedure.
Is It Normal To Feel Dizzy When Preparing For A Colonoscopy?
In rare cases, you may feel dizzy when you are undergoing bowel preparation for a colonoscopy.
The most common side effects of taking an oral laxative include the frequent urge to empty your bowels, which can lead to dehydration and/or blood sugar drop. This may cause you to feel nauseous or lightheaded and in some cases, thirsty too.
How Do You Know If Your Colon Is Empty Before A Colonoscopy?
The colour and consistency of your stool can tell you if your bowel has been emptied.
The presence of dark particles or thick brown stool means you are not ready for a colonoscopy. If your stool appears clear and yellow, then it is an indication that your entire bowel system is clean and ready to undergo the colonoscopy procedure without any issues.
How Does A Colonoscopy Work?
A colonoscopy is usually conducted in an endoscopy centre. Anaesthesia (intravenous sedation) is administered before the procedure prior to the investigation. You will be unconscious during the procedure.
During the procedure, a colonoscope will be inserted through the rectum and progress towards the other end of the large intestine (colon). The colonoscope is a flexible and long tubular instrument mounted with a camera. This allows the images to be transmitted to the doctor through a screen as it passes along the colon walls and searches for signs of abnormalities.
If the presence of abnormalities is observed, our doctor may perform the following:
- Our doctor may remove a part or small amounts of tissue observed within the colon that are abnormal for testing. This process is known as a biopsy.
- If polyps or abnormal growths are identified inside the colon, our doctor will also be able to locate these growths and remove them.
- Stop bleeding areas if present.
Through a colonoscopy, doctors can perform a more precise diagnosis and treat possible conditions that they observe without requiring you to undergo a major operation.
When the procedure is complete, the colonoscope is retracted from the rectum, and you will be left to recover from the sedation before you are discharged.
The entire procedure will last approximately 30 minutes or less.
What Happens After the Colonoscopy?
After completing the procedure, most patients will rest for approximately an hour before the sedative starts to wear off. Patients are advised to avoid driving for the next 24 hours to allow the sedative to wear off completely.
They are also advised to have an accompanying adult with them after the surgery should they require additional support. Polyps or growth removed during the procedure will be sent for testing for signs of cancerous cells.
Our doctor will schedule for you to have a review and a report of the investigation done within the week.
How Will I Feel After A Colonoscopy?
It is normal to experience some minor discomfort after a colonoscopy.
After the procedure, you may feel gassy or bloated for a while because of all the air that was pumped into your intestine. The feeling should subside within 30 minutes to an hour after completion and you should feel it return to normal again.
Can I Use Medisave To Cover The Cost Of My Colonoscopy At G&L Surgical Clinic?
Our clinic staff is trained to help you work through your costing and finance concerns. G & L Surgical Clinic has partnerships with the vast majority of both local and foreign insurers.
We want our patients to have peace of mind in knowing that we are here to coordinate with their insurers and TPAs. With this out of the way, they can focus on the one thing that matters, their recovery.
How Much Does a Colonoscopy Cost in Singapore?
The doctor’s fee for a colonoscopy can range between $1,500 to $1,600 at a private hospital according to MOH’s Historical Transacted Bill Sizes and Fee Benchmarks, however, that is before taking into account your insurance, deductibles (e.g. MediShield Life, Integrated Shield Plans) and MediSave payouts.
For specific fees for your colonoscopy, check in with your insurance provider or approach our team for financial counselling.
Our Team at G&L strives to provide you with the necessary support to ensure that you have a seamless experience.
Why Choose Us For Your Colonoscopy In Singapore?
Dr Ganesh at G & L Surgical Clinic strives to prioritise his patients’ recovery and comfort. Having had adequate experience in performing colonoscopies for numerous patients for many years in Singapore.
Furthermore, the staff at G & L Surgical Clinic have been thoroughly and adequately trained to make your experience a comfortable and hassle-free one. Whether you intend to undergo a colonoscopy or other medical services in Singapore, you can rest assured that you will be properly and sufficiently cared for by trained professionals.
Organise a consultation with our surgeons for further assistance on colonoscopies in Singapore.